The Grateful Christian

Essays, opinions, and works-in-progress by a conservative Lutheran pastor.

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Location: West Michigan, United States

In order of importance, I am a: Husband, father, pastor, hobby programmer, writer. Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.

--C.S.Lewis, The Apologist's Evening Prayer

Thursday, November 02, 2006

See And Say

The child's wisdom is in saying
They say what they see when they see it
I am beginning to remember how
When I don't say it when I see it
I remember it differently
Hy Sobiloff, "The Child's Sight"

Have you ever noticed how something internal, like a belief system, or a fear, becomes at once more real, and less vital, when you describe it? When you express it? When you name it?

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It becomes defined--its boundaries are set--so it gains definition (as we use the word in the visual sense) and becomes realized, therefore more real.

The recognition and confirmation of the image, what General Semantics calls an "object," supplies the mind with a simulation that is only as detailed as it needs to be. Low resolution. But the processes of abstracting, this naming/categorizing with its hasty, forced decisions of where to set the boundaries, robs the object of some of its raw, elemental vitality, its power. In therapy, where fears and memories are named and thus cut down to manageable size, this is often a good thing!

We might expect that the higher up the ladder of abstraction we go--the thinner the air of description and analysis and meta-description--the more "tame" the object becomes. Perhaps this is why scholarly theologians are accused of preaching dry sermons, compared to the preacher who is less reflective and more gutsy, shoot-from-the-hip slapdash.

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